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WAPA Gets Power Back On, OKs High-Tech Metering

The V.I. Water and Power Authority governing board on Thursday addressed post-storm power restoration and water rationing, and a $13.2 million loan for a high-tech system for remotely assessing power usage which would enable customers to lower energy bills.

According to WAPA executive director Hugo Hodge, power has been restored to St. John, with the exception of a few homes, and St. Thomas is almost complete. He siad they are working on two poles which need to be changed, and that should completed by the end of Friday. On St. Croix, where the board met at the WAPA Sunny Isles Conference Center, there are still around 100 homes that are without power.

The water rationing on St. Thomas is the biggest issue that WAPA is currently facing – they will likely have to continue rationing for another week because of problems with three boiler units. But Hodge thinks that the rationing will be lifted by the end of next week.

In addition to discussing the power restoration issues, the governing board also authorized the negotiation of a loan for $13.2 million with the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) to finance an Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI).

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Hodge said that the AMI project will allow a remote reading of the meters territory-wide, and will help the 54,000 electric customers become more energy-efficient. The technology will give customers the ability to monitor real-time energy consumption and make adjustments as needed.

For example, it would give a customer the ability to plug into the smart grid system with their television or computers to monitor their usage at any given time. If a customer wanted to see in real-time how much energy their air conditioner uses, they could do so.

Hodge said the technology brings metering up to date because “It will allow us to remotely read the entire system, and improve the accuracy of those readings.”

WAPA’s Chief Financial Officer Joseph Boschulte began the dialogue to try and get a secured loan with RU. Hodge said he’d already applied for grant funds with the Department of Agriculture and according to preliminary findings the AMI will present a savings of approximately $46 million over 15 years.

The project will also allows hellp the utility reduce revenue loss from fraud and tampering and make connection and disconnection more cost effective, and will eliminate the need for meter readers. However, Hodge gave assurances that they would not lose their jobs, just be trained to maintain and repair the meters.

The board also approved an addendum to a contract between WAPA and R.W. Beck, Inc. (SAIC), for an $85,500 extension to January 31, 2012 for the global positioning system/geographic information system. The original project was budgeted $for 2.5 million and the $85,500 is savings from that original budget.

The GPS/GIS project provides a functional and accurate mechanism for WAPA to manage electric assets, and can assist with targeting and reducing line loss and identifying pole attachments to augment revenue.

In fact, the GPS/GIS system helped immensely during the restoration process this week according to Allyson Gregory, the systems planning manager, because WAPA was able to easily identify downed poles.

“The GPS/GIS system helped expedite the entire Tropical Storm Irene restoration process,” Gregory said.

The board also authorized a change order with Rotating Equipment, Inc. to continue working on a water rehabilitation project in Anna’s Hope on St. Croix, which will improve the efficiency of the water distribution system by replacing deteriorating water lines.

The project is fully funded through the EPA’s Drinking Water Capital Improvement Grant Program, and supported by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and the change order will allow an extra 1,700 linear feet of water main and fire hydrant to serve 15 to 20 more customers. It will cost an additional $163,402 of the total cost, which is $359,886.10.

In other business, the board authorized:

  • reprogramming of $1.6 million of the 2010 Revenue Bonds, which was designated for a new St. Thomas administrative building; $995,000 will go to construct underground electrical duct bank to service Cruzan Rum, $391,237 will go toward purchasing high voltage electrical supplies , and $228,660 will be used to upgrade the steam turbine control systems for unit numbers 10 and 11 in the Richmond Plant;
  • contracting with Hawkins, Delafield & Wood to provide bond counsel and related legal services
  • payment to DPNR for $278,787 for 2010 emission fees for Estate Richmond and Randolph Harley facilities;
  • renewal of insurance policies with CIGNA HealthCare effective Sep. 1 for a total cost of $4,360,000.

Board members present were Alicia Barnes, Juanita Young,Wayne Biggs, Noel Loftus, and Gerald Groner. Absent were, Cheryl Boynes Jackson, Donald Francois, Karl Knight and Brenda Benjamin.

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The V.I. Water and Power Authority governing board on Thursday addressed post-storm power restoration and water rationing, and a $13.2 million loan for a high-tech system for remotely assessing power usage which would enable customers to lower energy bills.

According to WAPA executive director Hugo Hodge, power has been restored to St. John, with the exception of a few homes, and St. Thomas is almost complete. He siad they are working on two poles which need to be changed, and that should completed by the end of Friday. On St. Croix, where the board met at the WAPA Sunny Isles Conference Center, there are still around 100 homes that are without power.

The water rationing on St. Thomas is the biggest issue that WAPA is currently facing – they will likely have to continue rationing for another week because of problems with three boiler units. But Hodge thinks that the rationing will be lifted by the end of next week.

In addition to discussing the power restoration issues, the governing board also authorized the negotiation of a loan for $13.2 million with the Rural Utilities Services (RUS) to finance an Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI).

Hodge said that the AMI project will allow a remote reading of the meters territory-wide, and will help the 54,000 electric customers become more energy-efficient. The technology will give customers the ability to monitor real-time energy consumption and make adjustments as needed.

For example, it would give a customer the ability to plug into the smart grid system with their television or computers to monitor their usage at any given time. If a customer wanted to see in real-time how much energy their air conditioner uses, they could do so.

Hodge said the technology brings metering up to date because “It will allow us to remotely read the entire system, and improve the accuracy of those readings.”

WAPA’s Chief Financial Officer Joseph Boschulte began the dialogue to try and get a secured loan with RU. Hodge said he’d already applied for grant funds with the Department of Agriculture and according to preliminary findings the AMI will present a savings of approximately $46 million over 15 years.

The project will also allows hellp the utility reduce revenue loss from fraud and tampering and make connection and disconnection more cost effective, and will eliminate the need for meter readers. However, Hodge gave assurances that they would not lose their jobs, just be trained to maintain and repair the meters.

The board also approved an addendum to a contract between WAPA and R.W. Beck, Inc. (SAIC), for an $85,500 extension to January 31, 2012 for the global positioning system/geographic information system. The original project was budgeted $for 2.5 million and the $85,500 is savings from that original budget.

The GPS/GIS project provides a functional and accurate mechanism for WAPA to manage electric assets, and can assist with targeting and reducing line loss and identifying pole attachments to augment revenue.

In fact, the GPS/GIS system helped immensely during the restoration process this week according to Allyson Gregory, the systems planning manager, because WAPA was able to easily identify downed poles.

“The GPS/GIS system helped expedite the entire Tropical Storm Irene restoration process,” Gregory said.

The board also authorized a change order with Rotating Equipment, Inc. to continue working on a water rehabilitation project in Anna’s Hope on St. Croix, which will improve the efficiency of the water distribution system by replacing deteriorating water lines.

The project is fully funded through the EPA’s Drinking Water Capital Improvement Grant Program, and supported by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and the change order will allow an extra 1,700 linear feet of water main and fire hydrant to serve 15 to 20 more customers. It will cost an additional $163,402 of the total cost, which is $359,886.10.

In other business, the board authorized:

  • reprogramming of $1.6 million of the 2010 Revenue Bonds, which was designated for a new St. Thomas administrative building; $995,000 will go to construct underground electrical duct bank to service Cruzan Rum, $391,237 will go toward purchasing high voltage electrical supplies , and $228,660 will be used to upgrade the steam turbine control systems for unit numbers 10 and 11 in the Richmond Plant;
  • contracting with Hawkins, Delafield & Wood to provide bond counsel and related legal services
  • payment to DPNR for $278,787 for 2010 emission fees for Estate Richmond and Randolph Harley facilities;
  • renewal of insurance policies with CIGNA HealthCare effective Sep. 1 for a total cost of $4,360,000.

Board members present were Alicia Barnes, Juanita Young,Wayne Biggs, Noel Loftus, and Gerald Groner. Absent were, Cheryl Boynes Jackson, Donald Francois, Karl Knight and Brenda Benjamin.